MHRC to conduct a human rights monitoring exercise in Cyclone Freddy evacuation camps

Written by Dyson Kamwana

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has revealed plans to embark on human rights monitoring and investigation in the evacuation camps where victims of Tropical Cyclone Freddy are being kept.

MHRC Executive Secretary, Habiba Osman said the commission understands that in an event where thousands of people have been displaced, some unscrupulous group of people take advantage of the vulnerability of the victims and rights are violated in the course, hence the move.

“One of our roles is to also look at how issues of Gender Based Violence (GBV), child abuse is being taken care of on the ground. So, that could also be one of the ways in which we could intervene by looking at all human rights angles,” said Osman.

However, Osman was quick to point out that the commission is running short of funds to carry out the exercise, a development she says has delayed the process.

She therefore revealed that the commission is working with various development partners including the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) and Save the Children on the same, as reports indicate shortages of food rations in some camps, adding that some individuals have lost their medical books, a situation which is hindering them from accessing medical assistance.

“We are not fully on the ground due to financial constraints; however, we have partnered with development partners that are on the ground to help monitor the rights of children in the camps as well as those that have health problems and might need access to medical treatment,” she added.

Osman: We will monitor and investigate all human rights issues.

Meanwhile, MHRC has revealed plans to embark on resource mobilization to join efforts that government and other stakeholders are pulling in to uplift the lives of Tropical Cyclone Freddy victims in southern Malawi.

MHRC has been conducting human rights monitoring exercises during the disasters including the period of COVID 19 and flash floods in Nsanje and Mangochi last year.

According to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA’s) Tropical Cyclone Freddy situation report, as of Wednesday March 22nd, 2023, the preliminary report from all 15 affected district councils in the Southern Region of Malawi, the number of displaced people is at 562 415 with 576 camps set to accommodate the displaced.

Meanwhile, President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera said during presentation of “Operation Tigwirane Manja” report in parliament on Wednesday, March 22nd ,2023 that government is leveraging all support to supply in all camps that are within reach with humanitarian relief items for meeting their basic needs like shelter, healthcare, protection and food security, adding that the support is far from enough for the magnitude of needs as it has also been difficult to reach some areas due to damaged and impassable roads.

However, following the Chakwera’s declaration of a State of National Disaster, foreign missions, local and international organizations, companies and individuals continue providing various support towards the victims, including Zambian and Tanzanian governments which provided helicopters to help airlifting relief assistance to areas that are inaccessible by road and water.

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